Change is hard. Maybe not for everyone but, for me at least, change is hard and has gotten all the more difficult as I have entered the “golden years,” as someone called them. One of the most difficult changes in the past year has been downsizing and moving to a new house.
I was born in northeast Tennessee and lived in a home that I do not remember well. There are snippets of memories from those earliest years but, for the most part, I do not recall very much.
When I was 4 or 5 (or was it 3?) we moved across the street and up the hill to a small two-bedroom house. It was there that I grew up and where all my memories were formed. I made childhood and youthful friends there — Steve Duncan, the Baileys, the Bloomer family — and it was there that all my childhood experiences and adventures have their source. I left for the Marines from that house and it will always be “home” in my mind.
But, after the Marines and marriage, everything changed. We lived in 14 places in the first 10 years of our life together. Some of those moves were across town, to another apartment in the same building, to duplexes, a mobile home, two parsonages, to a home we bought, to another state (twice) … that’s a lot of packing and moving! Things slowed down, as far as moving is concerned, when we moved from Colorado to Georgia in June of 1983.
We first lived in a condo, then rented a house, and then bought a small house, all within the first seven years. And then, 28 years ago last December, we moved into our home just inside Coweta County. And there we stayed.
Our oldest son came home from college to find a new bedroom, our middle son changed high schools, and the younger son was largely raised there. Our eldest was married by the big black walnut tree in the back yard. Our current church was birthed in the living room, with the nursery in the basement. My church office was there for a few years. We put our roots down and they went deep.
We eventually put in a swimming pool for the grandchildren and our home became the place for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, “cookie day,” and family lunches following the Sunday worship services.
Of the 12 grandchildren, at least seven lived with us (and their parents) while their houses were being built or renovated and a niece stayed with us for a little less than a year. We only truly became empty nesters about four years ago.
And then came the talk about downsizing, relocating, getting rid of stuff accumulated over a lifetime and abandoning this fine house where victories were accomplished, struggles encountered, and lives were lived. I fought it.
“Wasn’t 17 moves enough?” I thought. Didn’t want it. But my wife did. Our oldest son lobbied for us to build a small house next to his on his 12 acres near Senoia in rural Coweta County. A few falls down the stairs, a knee replacement (and another on the horizon), and a diagnosis of congestive heart failure gave impetus to the argument and, eventually, I unhappily relented. The house was built; the other home is on the market.
John Denver, in “Rocky Mountain High,” sang:
“He was born in the summer of his 27th year
“Coming home to a place he’d never been before
“He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
“You might say he found a key for every door.”
Surprisingly, I find that, in a sense, I am “being re-born in the summer of my 68th year.” We occupied the new house just a couple of weeks ago and it feels like I am “Coming home to a place he’d never been before.”
The other evening, I sat in a rocking chair on my spacious screened-in front porch and watched 17 deer feed in the meadow not 30 yards from my front door.
I find it easier to read, to think, even to pray out there where the loudest sound at night is the chirping and burping of insects and frogs. Our cat, who is also 68 in cat years, after a few days of disorientation, has settled in and is content once again. And so have I. As resistant to change as I was for so long, I am home.
I love my small home office even if I do joke that it is smaller than a prison cell in Colorado’s Super-Max prison. Which it is. But it is more than sufficient for my needs.
The porches have a metal roof and, the other day the first hard rains came and there’s nothing quite like the sound of rain on a roof like that.
Most mornings I am up before dawn taking my coffee on that front porch listening to the birds welcoming the rising sun. At night, I wait for the deer to come to the meadow as the sun retires over the trees in the west.
I imagined that, if I made this move, I would be giving up a large chunk of my independence. I was wrong about that.
What I do have is a sense of security. If something happens to me — and statistics tell us that wives outlive their husbands by about six years — I have two sons that live in the same county and one is right next door. My wife will not be alone and that means a great deal to me.
We will observe our 48th wedding anniversary on September 6 in this new home. It is my expectation that all the remaining anniversaries and birthdays will be observed here as well. But, if I have learned anything, everything can change.
In the Old Testament, the children of Israel spent 40 years moving from place to place in the wilderness until they finally reached their promised destination. During all that time, God was with them. Not only that, God was leading them and was providing for them.
And so it has been during our own 48 years of wandering, camping in, now, 18 different locations. Through times of joy and heartbreak, victory and defeat, feasting and famine, plenty and poverty, God has been with us. And where He is, is home. Once again, we are home.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA between Newnan and Peachtree City (www.ctk.life). He is the bishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Diocese of the Mid-South which consists of Georgia and Tennessee and is the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]